Why Does Your Air Fryer Burn Everything? 10 Possible Reasons!

My air fryer has done it again. I can’t explain how frustrated I feel.

After putting in so much effort, all I get is burnt food before my hungry self. 

Am I doing this all wrong? I decided to find out why my air fryer burns everything. Is the fault in my cooking technique or the air fryer?

Why Does My Air Fryer Burn Everything? 

Most of the time, the problem lies with air frying the wrong way. 

One of the common reasons for an air fryer to burn food lies in cooking at high temperatures for a prolonged duration.

Some other reasons why your air fryer may be burning food include:

  • A dirty Air fryer
  • Too much or too little oil
  • Not shaking/flipping halfway
  • Overcrowding the basket 

The burning could be a single cause or an amalgamation of several causes. 

Let us delve into the most common reasons for the Airfryer to burn food,

You Have Set High Temperature for a Prolonged Duration 

Being a small appliance, the air fryer tends to get too hot too fast. When you increase the temperature for a long duration, it will lead to overheating of the air fryer. 

Overheating leads to overcooking and finally, burning of the food. 

Cooking in Airfryer is different from cooking on other cooktops. It doesn’t require a very high temperature for a long duration. 

If you must cook at high-temperature settings, make sure to do it in small durations, keeping an eye by opening up the drawer and making sure your food isn’t burning. 

You Haven’t Cleaned Your Air Fryer in a While 

Unfortunately, this is true. An Airfryer needs to be cleaned of all previously cooked particles and crumbs. 

If we become lazy, the result is burnt food. It is the Albatross we get to carry for all future cooking. 

The particles will be stuck on the basket or along the walls of the Airfryer. The leftover food crumbs end up burning the food you cook every time. 

You Have Used Too Much Oil 

Too much oil and grease in a hot compartment is a recipe for burning. 

An Airfryer is designed for cooking with minimum to no oil. All it needs is hot air circulation for cooking. Adding too much oil will overheat the food, causing it to burn. 

Besides food burning, overheating excessive oil will, in turn, overheat your Airfryer. This can be dangerous as the Airfryer has electronic components that may catch fire. 

A Word of Caution: food high in fat content like hamburgers and steaks releases excessive grease and oil. They end up burning faster compared to other foods. 

Also read: Do Air Fryers Need Oil? (Best Oil for Airfryer)

You are Placing Too Much Food 

An air fryer needs air space for cooking your food. If you cramp it up with food, it will work harder to send hot air everywhere. 

As the air fryer will start getting overheated, so will your food, and in the end, you will get burnt food. 

I wouldn’t recommend stacking up food as the food near the heating element will overcook and burn while the food below will remain uncooked. 

Applying Too Little to No Oil

Erring on oil will yield burnt results. Even though you can cook the food without oil in the air fryer, the manufacturers always recommend adding a teaspoon of oil to your food. 

Using no oil can make the food stick to the basket and burn.

The natural moisture present in raw food will evaporate and there will be no moistness left on the food. Dried food + dry hot air will cause food to shrivel, dehydrate, and eventually, burn.

Also read: How Do Air Fryers Work Without Oil?

You are Cooking the Wrong Food in the Air Fryer 

It is sad but true. An air fryer cannot cook everything. It has certain restrictions, largely due to the way it is built, and the cooking technique. 

Some foods just don’t cook well in the small heated chamber with dry hot air moving around them. 

Here are some food examples you should not try to cook in the air fryer: 

  • Wet battered foods
  • Lightweight leafy vegetables
  • Fresh moist cheese

Anything that has a lot of moisture or water will not cook well inside the air fryer. 

Likewise, lightweight food like spinach will fly around inside due to rapid hot air circulation. The food can get stuck to the heating element and burn. 

Using Oil with Low Smoking Points

Burning, to a large extent, also depends on the type of oil used for cooking food. 

If you use oil with low smoking points, they will start to burn the food as soon as the smoking temperature points are reached. 

As the air fryer has a wide range of temperature settings, make sure the oil you use has a high smoke point.

Some examples are olive oil, avocado, and peanut oil. Do not use butter, coconut oil, etc as these fall under low smoking point.

Unless you wish just to reheat your food at low temperatures. 

Also read: Can You Bake With Avocado Oil?

You Don’t Give Time In-Between Cookings 

If you don’t give some space out or rest time to your Airfryer in between cooking episodes, your air fryer will not get time to cool down. 

Picture this. You have a heated-up element and a heated-up chamber due to hot air circulation.  You place your food and set the temperature and timer. 

Your actions will overheat your appliance, and overheat your food, causing food to charr up and burn. 

You Don’t Flip the Food Halfway 

You may call this one of the shortcomings of an air fryer. For evenly cooked food, we need to flip the food or shake the fries halfway. 

Even though the holes in the basket allow good airflow, the part facing the heating element tends to brown faster compared to the part facing the drawer below.

If you don’t flip or shake halfway, the part on top can burn while the part underneath remains undercooked. 

Remember the time duration mentioned in the air fryer recipe includes cooking in two parts.

Flipping or shaking halfway is a must to avoid burning and for evenly cooked food. 

Your Non-Stick Layer Has Scrapped Away 

If the non-stick layer around the basket has been scrapped or peeled away, your food will stick to the basket and burn. 

The non-stick layer can chip off due to exposure to intense temperatures in the dishwasher, or cooking food often at high temperatures. 

Whenever the non-stick layer gets exposed to temperatures it cannot withstand, it will break. 

Using sharp metallic utensils or cleaning scrubs can also peel away the non-stick layer. Once the basket is deprived of non-stick, your food will stick and eventually burn. 

How Do I Prevent My Food From Burning in the Air fryer? 

The prevention lies in taking care of fine details while air frying. Here are a couple of helpful tips you can try out to stop your food from burning in the air fryer:

  • Do not go overboard with oil, when heated at high temperatures, it tends to burn food. Just a teaspoon is enough. Similarly, do not use too little or no oil for air frying. It will make the food dry up, stick, and burn inside the Airfryer. 
  • Use oil with a high smoking point like avocado, extra virgin olive oil, etc.  Oil with low smoking points will burn food faster. 
  • Do not cook food at high temperatures. Always choose a medium temperature setting and prolonged time duration.
  • Always cook bulk food in badges. Make sure there is a sufficient gap between food for good airflow
  • Don’t forget to flip the food halfway. In some cases like fries, you can shake the basket for even cooking. 
  • If the non-stick layer has scraped off, coat the basket with a drizzle of cooking oil spray. You can also use parchment paper, foil, or silicon mat to cook your food. 
  • Keep your Airfryer clean after every use. Remove the excess grease and food crumbs before placing fresh food. As I always say, you wouldn’t eat fresh food on a dirty plate, why give the fresh food a dirty environment that can burn it? 
  • Keep an eye out while cooking food. Open the drawer and keep checking your food at intervals. Adjust the temperature and time duration accordingly. 

What Are the Correct Temperature and Time durations for Cooking Food in the Air Fryer? 

It depends on the brand, the size of the air fryer, the power wattage, and the type of food.

In general for standard air fryers, the correct temperature and time duration remain the same, more or less. 

You may find minor differences from one appliance to the other depending on the size, design, power wattage, and what you cook. 

Keep an eye out and check to see which one suits you. Here is a handy table that fits standard air fryers for your reference: 

Different Food Preparations Time Duration Required Temperature
Salmon 6-10 mins400° F
Cod Fish 8-15 mins 370° F
Steak7-14 mins400° F
Meatballs8-10mins 400° F
Burgers 9-10 mins 350° F
Meatloaf40-45 mins 325° F
Carrots 15 -20 mins 375° F
Potato Chips 16-17 mins 360° F
Cookies10-12 mins325° F
Garlic Bread5-6 mins 350° F

Final Words 

I have answered in detail about the possible reasons for your Airfryer to burn food. 

Summing up, Keep an eye out for the temperature and time duration. Follow the manual instructions.

Use just a teaspoon of oil preferably with a high smoking point. Clean your air fryer from previous food particles. 

Don’t forget to shake or flip the food halfway and allow your air fryer to cool down before reusing it again.

Avoid placing wet batters, lightweight vegetables, and anything that has a lot of water. Coat your air fryer basket lightly with an oil spray or use parchment paper or foil.

Steer clear of the reasons mentioned above and you will be rewarded with well-done meals every time I promise!

Lastly, if you have followed the above tips and still get burnt food, the problem may lie in your appliance.

It could be a technical or a manufacturing defect. Here is a shout-out for your patience in such a scenario. Contact your brand for further assistance. All the best!

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